Efraim Halevy: I do not think that Israel was defeated by Hezbollah during the war. I believe that Israel did not achieve all of its objectives. In my view, the following are the indications that Israel did succeed in seriously damaging Hezbollah in Lebanon and limiting its freedom of action:
i) Hassan Nasrallah has publicly stated that he misjudged Israeli reaction to his incursion across the international border on July 12 when his forces killed eight Israeli soldiers and kidnapped two soldiers from within Israel territory. He has publicly stated that had he had the faintest indication as to how Israel would react, he would not have mounted the operation.
ii) From almost day one of the Lebanese war of summer 2006 Hezbollah and Iran and Syria, its mentors, daily appealed for a ceasefire. A winning force does not appeal for a ceasefire but accedes to requests of others.
iii) Initially, Hezbollah strongly objected to the entry of an international force into Lebanon with the mission of aiding the regular Lebanese army to deploy along the UN recognised Lebanese-Israeli international border. It also objected to Lebanon accepting the other provisions and stipulations of UN Security Council (UNSC) resolution 1701 which lays the blame on Hezbollah for starting the recent conflict. This resolution was unanimously approved by the UNSC and Iran and Syria are obligated to honour it.
iv) Nasrallah has been forced to order his remaining men in the south not to parade openly with their weapons and for the moment is respecting the letter of the ceasefire.
v) UNSC resolution 1701 calls for the total disarming of the Hezbollah. Nasrallah and his forces are defiant in their refusal to abide by this decision and, as a result, are flouting the wishes and demands of the entire international community, including the major states in the Middle East and the Arab world.
vi ) Hezbollah is now engaged in an intense internal struggle inside Lebanon. It has labeled Fuad Siniora, the Lebanese prime minister, a traitor and is calling for the replacement of his government with a national unity government. This demand has been rejected.
The result of the war is, therefore, a unique one. Israel may not have won the war as it hoped, but Hezbollah clearly lost it by its own testimony.